Key elements of Digital Strategy Plan


Digital Strategy Planning
Key elements of Digital Strategy Plan

The ongoing migration of organisations and individuals to a web enabled society is relentless and inevitable.The wider Digital economy in Ireland is currently (2014) estimated to be worth €12.9BN per annum with projections that it will, grow to over €20BN by 2020. The opportunities that this offers Irish SME’s are truly mind blowing but to exploit the opportunity requires planning,structure and foresight.

Todays changing customer behaviour has already dramatically altered the way businesses need to approach Digital strategy and measurement.What are the major trends that are driving change for every business – both big and small alike.

  • The internet has made the worlds information and media available to everyone at the click of a button.
  • Mobile devices have helped connected nearly everyone around the world 24 hours a day,7 days a week.
  • Cloud computing has provided us with infinite computing power and its cheap.

Because of the first two trends the consumer journey is forever changed.People are empowered with more information than ever before i.e product reviews,recommendations from friends or experts,store inventory and competitive pricing.all of these are now instantly available at the click of a button.

At the same time cloud computing has empowered more organisations to analyse more business data than ever before.

Digital marketing planning is no different to any other marketing plan, in fact it’s increasingly strange to have separate plans for ‘digital’ and ‘offline’ since that’s not how your customers perceive your business. However, we’re often required to separate plans for “digital” only based on the way resources and reporting is structured and to help the transition to digital –before it becomes “business as usual”.

There are a number of different approaches to developing a Digital strategy but the core components of all plans are as follows:

  • Identifying the opportunities and/or challenges in a business where online assets can provide a solution.
  • Identifying the unmet needs and goals of the customers that most closely align with those key business opportunities and/or challenges.
  • Developing a vision around how the online assets will full fill those business and customer needs, goals, opportunities and challenges.
  • Prioritising a set of online initiatives/tactics which can deliver on this vision

In relation to the SOSTAC strategy method the elements of the plan are as follows:

  • S stands for Situation Analysis – which means where are we now?
  • O stands for Objectives which means where do we want to go?
  • S stands for Strategy which summarises how we are going to get there.
  • T stands for Tactics which are the details of strategy.
  • A is for Action or implementation – putting the plan to work.
  • C is for Control which means measurement, monitoring, reviewing, updating and modifying.

In addition to the above elements there are a number of other “variables “ which must be considered.These are essentially resources that must be factored into the planning process to ensure that the organisation has the ability to deliver on the Strategy objectives and targets.

In all cases these resource issues revolve around :

  • Money ie Do we have the financial resources to support the plan?
  • People i.e Have we the skills available to deliver on the tactics/strategies required?
  • Time i.e Can we achieve our objectives within a realistic time frame?

The move from traditional outbound marketing to web enabled inbound marketingis causing massive disruption across many industries. However the market opportunity has never been greater and organisations that embrace the opportunities of Digital/Inbound marketing are outperforming their peers across all industry sectors.


Inbound Marketing Overview

Here is an overview of  Inbound Marketing methodology. It is a copy of a slidedeck I used when giving a lecture on the Sureskills diploma in Digital Marketing. It covers the main areas of Digital Disruption,Content creation and sharing and an overview of the four keys steps in any Inbound Marketing campaign.


Developing Online Buyer Personas

Developing Online Buyer Personas

Developing Online Buyer Personas

Developing Online Buyer Personas – The ability to deliver a clear targeted message to your prospects is at the very heart of an effective Inbound marketing strategy.As your prospect moves deeper along the buying journey then the persona becomes more defined.

If done effectively this allows us to deliver the right message, at the right time and in the right place. By developing our online personas we can see in effect what is our ideal customer and what information is relevant to them.

This allows us to put some context  into our content marketing efforts.This is the crossroads of combining strategy and technology into the marketing mix.

At Earlytoe we are big believers in the benefits of a clearly defined strategy.We have put together a slide deck outlining our thoughts on Developing Online Buyer Personas. We hope you find it beneficial and we would love to hear  your feedback and comments.

Why Inbound Marketing is Growing

Why Inbound Marketing is Growing

Why Inbound Marketing is Growing
Why Inbound Marketing is Growing – Effective and successful marketing is all about adapting your product offering and internal structures to take account of changes in the wider marketing landscape. At the outset I have to say that I am still  a firm believer in the concept of the 4 p’s and how organisations must constantly adapt and take cognizance of changes all around.

The growth of Inbound Marketing is a great case in point.The basic principle of good solid strategic marketing still applies but the route to market (Place) and promotional mix has been modified to take account of the changes in prospects buying behavior. In  essence the consumer is shopping and learning in a different manner compared to ten or even five years ago Smart marketers and organisations are recognizing this and adapting accordingly.

Of course migration of commerce and individuals to the web is the single biggest factor and this is being driven by Millennial’ s or Generation Y consumers. The phrase Generation Y first appeared in 1993 in the magazine Ad Age  to describe teenagers of the day.A number of authors and academics have written about the growth of this cohort and the consensus is that Generation Y consumers were born sometime between 1983 and 2004. Frequently these consumers are also referred to as  Generation We, Global Generation,Generation Next, and the Net Generation.

So what therefore are the key traits and characteristics of these consumers and how do they  affect the way these consumers engage with products and brands.William A. Draves and Julie Coates, authors of Nine Shift Work Life and Education in the 21st Century, suggest that Millennials have distinctly different behaviors, values and attitudes from previous generations as a response to the technological and economic implications of the Internet.

In 2007 two authors  Junco and Mastrodicasa  conducted a large-sample (7,705) research study of college students on a global basis. Some of their key findings were as follows:

  • Generation Y college students, born between 1983–1992, were frequently in touch with their parents and they used technology at higher rates than people from other generations.
  • In their survey, they found that 97% of these students owned a computer, 94% owned a cell phone and 56% owned an MP3 player.
  •  76% of students used instant messaging
  • 92% of those reported multitasking while instant messaging
  • 34% of students surveyed used the Internet as their primary news source

In summary Generation Y’ers were the first generation to grow up with the internet in their homes. The are comfortable with the internet and are early adopters of technology. Many of them wont buy a product without consulting user generated content  first. Many millennial’s are big users of social media and are happy to share their experience online and also value the opinion of others when making a purchase.

These consumers are used to developing and building relationships in an online environment and these characteristics have now been carried into the workplace. In my house we have two generation y’ers .Typically they don’t watch a lot of TV and I don’t think I ever saw them buying a newspaper. When not working,studying or playing sport a big portion of their “downtime” is spent online.

So as a marketer how do you connect with consumers like this and start to build engagement and awareness.

Yes you guessed it. Inbound Marketing!



Inbound Marketing and SEO

inbound marketing and seo

inbound marketing and seo
Inbound Marketing can be considered a four step process.The first step is about ensuring that your website is properly optimized and that your are driving the correct type of traffic to your website.In effect this is the Modern take on SEO. The next steps involve A)converting the website traffic into leads B) managing and nurturing the leads through the buyer journey and C)measuring and analyzing your activities on an ongoing basis to ensure that your tactics are working.

So when looking at the start of the process how do we ensure that our site is optimized and that we are driving the right type of traffic to our site.All search engine have what are referred to as bots, or crawlers. These bots are constantly scanning the web, indexing websites for content and following links on each webpage to other webpages.If you website has not been indexed then it will not appear on the SERP (Search Engine Results page).

Major search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo use two types of criteria when deciding what a web page is about and therefore how to display it on the SERP.

  • Website Content. The web crawlers will scan each page looking for information or clues about what topics your website is covering. This will also involve looking at the back end code of your site to see specific tags,instructions and descriptions.  
  • Link Profile: In other words what other websites are linking to you.The greater the number of Inbound Links a web page has then the greater the authority or online influence that it earns.In the eyes of the search bots every link counts like a “thumbs up” for the website content. In addition different links carry different degrees of authority.A link from a highly reputable long established website will give more search boost than a link from a small blogging website for example.Links are often referred to as the currency of the internet and search boosts from inbound links are called “Link juice”

In all of this it is important to remember that Search engines have one objective – to provide you with the most relevant
results possible in relation to your search query.When a search query is entered, the search engine looks in its index for the most relevant information and displays the results on the SERP. The results are then listed in order of most relevant and authoritative. There are a number of other s factors that the search engine will also consider when deciding how to display the results

  • Geographic location of the searcher
  •  Historical performance of a listing (clicks, bounce rates, etc.)
  •  Link quality (reciprocal vs. one-way)
  • Webpage content (keywords, tags, pictures)
  •  Back end code or HTML of webpage
  •  Link type (social media sharing, link from media outlet, blog, etc.)

SEO is critical because it ensures that your site is found organically when prospects are searching. There are no quick fixes and it takes persistence and correct strategy to ensure success. However when you consider that on average 60-70% of searches do not scroll past the first page then it helps to focus the mind.

Remember “Blogging is not the answer to lazy mans dreams”



Successful Irish Inbound Marketing case study

Successful Irish Inbound Marketing case study

Successful Irish Inbound Marketing case study
One of our clients at earlytoe is an online portal called This site is dedicated to the promotion of self catering holidays all over Donegal. The site is excellent at showcasing a range of activities for family based holidays in Donegal and during peak holiday periods attracts hundreds of unique visitors on a daily basis. Donegal has a large number of self catering holiday properties and this site gives holiday home owners an opportunity to advertise their property on the site for an annual fee.

The challenge for the website promoter thus was to continue to increase the visitor traffic for the existing holiday owners and to try and convince other holiday home owners to advertise on the website. The potential cohort of holiday home owners to be convinced to advertise was not large probably numbering in the hundreds. In addition it was difficult to get precise contact details because many of the owners did not live locally and thus it was very difficult to implement any outbound or direct marketing activities.

We knew it was likely that many holiday home owners visited the site anonymously on a regular basis but the challenge was therefore to try and get their contact details. The owner decided to developed a e-book which was a free Guide for Holiday home owners on how to market their holiday property. The hope was that potential clients would deem this piece of content marketing  so valuable that they would be happy to give their contact details in exchange for. The document was highlighted throughout the website and shared through all the related social media channels

To say the results was satisfactory would be a gross understatement. In a three month period over 80 prospects downloaded this premium content offer and 25 of these converted to advertising on the site. The total cost of producing this piece of content was €300 and if you consider that the average listing on the site is worth around €200 the you can easily work out the  ROI for yourself.


Talk to us today about converting your anonymous website visitors into leads.


Interesting Inbound Marketing Statistics

Interesting Inbound Marketing Statistics

Interesting Inbound Marketing Statistics
At Earlytoe we live and breath all things Strategy,Marketing and Digital.The migration of commerce and individuals to the web is relentless. Consumers purchase habits and buying preferences are changing and many of the old rules of business are broken for good. Many companies however still have to keep a balance between the old and new. However we really do believe that  in many instances the building of a sustainable web presence will become more and more critical as connectivity increases on a global basis.

To highlight what we are talking about we have complied a list of Interesting Inbound Marketing statistics which hopefully will provide some food for thought. We focus on the latest trends in web usage, online video, mobile and search, social and shopping which are currently shaping the Global digital marketplace.

  • In 1996 at the birth of the internet 66% of all internet users were based in the US.Today the figure is 14%. Asia/Pacific currently provides the most users with 42% followed by Europe on 27%.
  • Between 2011 and 2012 the numbers of internet users in Europe grew by 7% to 408 million.
  • The average global internet user spends 24.7 hours per month on line.
  • 15% of Europe’s 408 million users are in Russia.This equates to 63 million consumers.
  • In Europe 241 million users currently access the internet via mobile devices.
  • The comparable figure for the UK is 49.5 million.
  • Smartphone penetration in the EU is 57%
  • Nearly 1/3 of all page views in UK are from a tablet or mobile device.
  • In the UK in December 2012 more 8 out of 10 newly acquired devices were smartphones.
  • Google is the leading smartphone operating system with 47% market share.
  • As of December 2012 over 6 million people in UK owned both a tablet and a smartphone.
  • In UK the tablet market grew year on year by 243%  between 2011 and 2012.
  • The average UK user spends 6.5 hours per month on Social Media.(Dec 2012)
  • Majority of weekday tablet usage takes place between 8 pm and 9 pm.
  • In UK average time spent accessing the internet via a mobile browser is 9.5 hours per user per month
  • UK internet users searched on average 161 times in December 12. 
  • Turkey Leads The Way With Most Searches per Searcher in Europe per month.242.7
  • Google has 91% of search market in UK followed by Bing with 4%.
  • Median Age of UK LinkedIn user is Just Under 40
  • In 2012 in UK the internet audience over 55 years grew by 11% to 9.1 million.
  • In 2012 the % of people accessing Amazon on mobile devices grew by 87%
  • In UK 26% of smartphone users use their device to find a store location.
  • 19% use their phone to research product features.
  • One in three i Phone users used their device to make a purchase.
  • i Phone users are twice as likely as Android users to purchase 1-3 per month on line.

These figures were complied from a recent Comscore report.The digital train is leaving the station and time to climb aboard!



B2B Marketing Statistics for Ireland

B2B Marketing Statistics for Ireland

B2B Marketing Statistics for Ireland – B2B marketing can sometimes be a long and complicated process. In many cases the product can be technically complex, financially expensive with multiple stakeholders involved in making the final purchase decision. Not so long ago B2B marketing was all about about tradeshows, cold calling,mailing brochures,follow-up phone calls and a whole lot more. In this environment it was all a bit hit and miss very hard to quantity ROI on marketing investment. However with the adoption of the web and relentless migration of commerce online it is now much easier to measure the effectiveness of any B2B marketing campaign.

Here we have compiled a list of some important B2B statistics which highlight both the challenge and the opportunity for organisations involved in B2B marketing in Ireland today.

SEO-Search Engine Optimization

  • There are over 130 Billion searched conducted worldwide via the web (Comscore 2010)
  • 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results. (, October 2010)
  • 61% of global Internet users research products online. (Interconnected World: Shopping and Personal Finance, 2012)
  • 78% of B2B buyers start their research with search (Demand Gen 2012)
  • 78% go directly to vendor website (Demand Gen 2012)
  • 60% of all organic clicks go to the top three organic search results. (MarketingSherpa 2007)
  • The average click-through rate for paid search in 2010 (worldwide) was 2%. (Convario, January 2011)
  • Germany is the largest serach market in EU with 54.1million people having conducted aleast one search.(Comscore 2010)
  • Uk is the second highest with 43million having conducted al leaste one search (Comscore 2010)

Social Media and Blogging

  • Companies that blog have 97% more inbound links. (HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing Lead Generation Report, 2010)
  • Businesses with websites of 401-1000 pages get 6x more leads than those with 51-100 pages. (HubSpot Lead Generation Lessons from 4,000 Businesses, 2011)
  • 57% of companies with a blog have acquired a customer from their blog.(Hubspot)
  • In US and EU  More than half of mobile social networkers accessed these sites on a near daily basis demonstrating the increasingly central role mobile media plays in consumers daily lives.(Comscore 2012)
  • In Europe An analysis of the leading social networks showed that the growth rates from mobile users accessing social networks by far outpaced growth rates of computer users. (Comscore 2012)
  • Blog frequency impacts customer acquisition. 92% of companies who blogged multiple times a day acquired a customer through their blog. (HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing, 2012)
  • When the average order value is above $10,000, 70% of buyers say they view four or more pieces of content.(Marketingprofs)

Lead Generation

  • Companies with 30 or more landing pages generate 7x more leads than those with fewer than 10. (HubSpot)
  • LinkedIn is 277% more effective for lead generation than Facebook & Twitter. (Hubspot)
  • Case Studies are the most effective lead generating tool. (Lead Conversion)
  • 90% of the data in the world today was created in the last two years. (Marketing Profs)
  • During the month, UK consumers spent more than 37 hours online on their PC, representing the highest of all 18 European markets analysed (Comscore)
  • Research shows that 35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first. (Source:
  • 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost. (Source: Forrester Research)
  • Over 50% of respondents say they read “most of” their emails (HubSpot)



Content Marketing SEO Benefits

Content Marketing SEO Benefits

Content Marketing SEO Benefits


Content Marketing SEO Benefits – The demarcation line between SEO and Content Marketing has got somewhat blurred over the last number of years. At the heart of SEO is the need to be found by both the Google web crawlers and the human.However generating content that  may satisfy the Google bot will not necessarily be the same which your potential on line prospect is looking for. Web marketers have to take notice of this and today the ability to rank high on search engines is approximately 25% On page and 75% OFF page. Learn more about developing a content marketing strategy here.

Generating more traffic to a website is like baking a cake in that a lot of complimentary activities are required to get the best result. There is no one tactic that is singularly proven to generate worthwhile results on its own but rather a set of supporting tools and strategies working together.

i) On Page SEO

On page SEO relates to everything you can control on each specific webpage and across your website to make it easy for the search engines to find, index and understand the topical nature of your specific content.

The key elements of On Page SEO are as follows:

Website content: Here we are talking about best practice of formatting content to allow the search engine bots to digest the content. Every web page will have a thought provoking headline to grab the reader’s attention and should include the keyword or phrase that the web page covers. Other body formatting including bolding certain keywords or phrases will help to highlight the importance of keywords or phrases we are optimizing for.We spoke about this in a recent post.Here is the link.

 URL structure: Urls will be edited to include title of webpage and reflect the website content on the page.

Pictures: Relevant file names will be chosen that are search engine friendly and alt tags will be included on all pictures embedded on the website

Title tags and Meta tags: Title tag is blue link which search engines use when displaying a page on the search engine results page (SERP).These words should be chosen carefully. Meta descriptions are first place search engines will look to put text under the blue link on the SERP.

Headline tags: Use of selected headline tags on a page is also important for SEO. Essentially these are keywords that are treated differently than other keywords on the page. They make it easier for the reader to digest what is important on the page and the also give a definitive clues to the search engines what words are important on the page.

Internal linking: When anchor text or internal linking is used it is implying that the keyword or phrase we are using as an anchor. This is also relevant for the search engines.

ii) Off Page SEO

The main elements for OFF page SEO are as follows:

  • Linking Strategy

Compared to on page SEO, off page SEO is generally more difficult to execute. This involves building relationships with other websites through the creation of attractive content and reaching out to the people who run the websites. The process of building relationships is called link building. Who is linking to you, how they are linking to you and how your content is shared across social networks and across the web can have a very significant impact on the ability to rank on the SERP.

  • Content Creation and Keywords

A key starting point and probably the most critical component of SEO is choosing the right keywords for optimization  Every search query is unique and different and it will important to choose keywords and terms that are relevant and not ultra-competitive. As a starting point it will be really important to define a clear keyword strategy and to use tools such as Google Keywords, Google insights and trends etc. in this regard. The correct use of Long Tail Keywords can be very effective in this regard in that even though the search volumes are lower than more generic popular search terms, it will often happen that the searcher is lower down the sales funnel and consequently closer to making a buying decision.

Every page on your website should be an opportunity to rank for a keyword or phrase.
The more pages means there are more opportunities to rank but the need for ongoing content creation also becomes more critical. In this regard the importance of blogging cannot be overestimated. A blog will influence purchase decision by leveraging customer language and topics. Having an active blog will allow for more pages to be indexed and ranked. In addition Blogs are the best way to create more “Top of Funnel” content to attract more leads. We suggest that blogging a minimum of three times per week is essential to get good Digital traction.

  • Social Media Sharing to Spread Content.

If a blog or piece of content get posted in a forest will anyone read it !The point being is that energy and time is spent on creating content and its impact on SEO traffic will be reduced if links to those articles are not shared on Social Media channels

The amount of social activity (shares, recommendations, likes +1 etc.) that a webpage has on social networks is an important factor in that pages ability to rank in SERP. The major search engines understand that content shared on social networks is influential and therefore should rank higher.

To boost the rankings from Search Engines results from Social Media sharing it is important that the content is produced in a format that is easy to share. Implementing social network share buttons across all platforms is an important way to achieve this.


Generating Leads with Social Media For B2B Marketing

Generating Leads with Social Media For B2B Marketing

Generating Leads with Social Media For B2B Marketing


In a recent post we focused on the opportunity of Generating Leads with Social Media for B2B Marketing. Today we dig a little deeper into this topic.We already know that the average life of a Social post is around three hours which highlights the need to  share content on a continuous ongoing basis to be truly effective,and build “reachability”. This takes some discipline and a good starting point is to establish a content calendar. A starting point for example would be to commit to publishing a minimum of two/three blog posts per week and on daily basis spend 15 minutes curating and sharing content with your followers.

When we establish a stable process for generating content we then need to try and encourage our followers to share our content. An interesting way to do this is to build Social thank you pages. So when somebody downloads or likes some of our content we put more links on the thank you page to give them an opportunity to share. If you can succeed at this forward sharing then the cumulative effect can be very powerful in driving leads.

Directly related to this is the need to drive leads conversions across all our Social channels.In essence this means that clear calls to actions are essential.You can find out about this here. Your blog posts and all your Social Media posts should be peppered with links and landings pages to give your prospects every opportunity to convert and share. If you do this then it will have a positive impact on your key conversion rates which is a critical metric for feeding the top of your marketing funnel. Research by Dan Zarrella at Hubspot has shown that Social Media  traffic has the third highest lead to conversion rate after Paid search and email.This puts it above organic search, and direct traffic.

The principles outlined above apply to all Social Media platforms.The final point about Social Media is consistent with concept of Content marketing in general.There is undoubtedly a very direct correlation between the amount of content you produce and the amount of visitors and leads generated.

Remember blogging is not the answer to a lazy man’s dreams of success.!